A group of environmentally-aware Year 7-12 Daylesford College students known as the Green Team were the recipients of a highly prestigious Sustainable Communities – Tidy Towns ‘Gift Fund’ award. 

The Gift Fund Awards (which include grants of $1,000 each) are awarded to promising new projects worthy of support and getting off the ground. The Green Team will put the grant towards the creation of a forest carbon sink, a natural reservoir that absorbs more carbon that it releases, lowering the concentration of CO2 from the atmosphere. The proposed carbon sink will be developed on three acres of unused land owned by the college. The intent is to rejuvenate the land with the creation of the carbon sink.

College Principal, Steve MacPhail, said, “Our students are passionate about climate change and creating a sustainable environment. The Green Team are at the forefront of this and they should be congratulated for their dedication and hard work. The carbon sink is our flag ship project at the moment and we are always looking for other ways in which we can contribute to a healthier more sustainable world.”

The DC Green Team grew out of the desire by students to voice their concerns about the environment and take action. Projects to date have included repair cafes, climate strikes, clean up/ litter wise days, attending Z Net Shire meetings and educating peers and the community.

The Sustainable Communities – Tidy Towns awards were announced at a virtual event in Beechworth on Saturday night.

A Keep Victoria Beautiful initiative, the awards recognise and celebrate grassroots initiatives and positive actions taken by individuals, community groups, educational institutions, businesses and councils in rural and regional Victoria.

These include programs and projects that change behaviours, protect the environment, reduce waste, preserve our heritage, increase social wellbeing, celebrate Indigenous culture and encourage strong leadership, especially among our youth.

All up, these actions and initiatives improve, empower and build resilience in local communities.

Commenting on this year’s awards, Keep Victoria Beautiful Tidy Town spokesperson, Dick Gross (who is also councillor for Port Phillip Council) said he was impressed by the calibre of entries and significant uptick in submissions from across all parts of the state.

“Clearly the awards have acted as an antidote to the pandemic and provided our rural and regional communities with a sense of purpose and something to strive towards in what has been an extremely difficult year.

“Each year over 20,000 Victorians across our state are positively impacted and involved in the awards in some way. These include all the spectacular project volunteers, town committees and councils as well as the locals who live in these towns.

“Ultimately, the awards don’t just promote the remarkable projects happening across rural and regional Victoria, they also help promote tourism in these amazing communities.”

 The Sustainable Communities – Tidy Towns Awards have been going since 1983. Over the years they have gradually moved beyond simply rewarding towns for their tidiness and instead are focussed on recognising and celebrating positive actions taken by communities and individuals.

Keep Victoria Beautiful (KVB) has a rich history in community reward and recognition and is best known for its long-standing Sustainable Communities-Tidy Town and Sustainable Cities awards. It also delivers the Stationeers Program which encourages beautification of railway stations which is done in partnership with Metro, Vic Track, PTV and V/Line. Additionally, it works with VicRoads with the Adopt a Roadside program.